With the rise of identity theft, celebrity worship, and manipulative social media, this sprightly story of a legendary con...

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KING CON

THE BIZARRE ADVENTURES OF THE JAZZ AGE'S GREATEST IMPOSTOR

The absorbing tale of a Jazz Age grifter named Edgar Laplante, who posed as an American Indian and gained extravagant wealth and worldwide fame.

Chronicling the life and entertaining yet fraudulent times of Laplante, aka Chief White Elk, Willetts (Rendezvous at the Russian Tea Rooms: The Spyhunter, the Fashion Designer, and the Man from Moscow, 2015, etc.), in his American debut, brings fresh significance to the ancient profession of the con artist. A vaudeville performer who began his career in traveling medicine shows, by 1917 Laplante was a small-time grifter moving from city to city, posing as Onondagan marathon runner Tom Longboat. As his confidence developed, his game grew, and he effectively dazzled his marks and bled them until his cover was blown. With the law always one step behind, he finally settled into his boldest reinvention: Chief White Elk, revered leader of the Cherokee nation, wounded war veteran, sports celebrity, vaudeville performer, war bonds promoter, etc. Dressed in buckskins and headdress, Laplante was the mainstay of local society pages, and his herculean feats of charisma and charm became unparalleled as his cons grew bigger and more dangerous. After several years, having run the course of his scam in North America, he made his way to Europe, where he began hosting fundraisers for American Indian orphans. By 1924, he was living in the French Riviera, where he met a wealthy Austrian countess from whom he bilked massive sums of money. Touring through Italy at her expense, Laplante hit his ultimate stride when he fell into the graces of the Mussolini regime, which brought him renown across Europe and around the globe. Then, just as he reached his career pinnacle, his fabrications crumbled, resulting in a stint in an Italian prison. Using the “surprisingly extensive paper trail” that Laplante “left behind,” Willetts weaves a fast-paced, intriguing tale.

With the rise of identity theft, celebrity worship, and manipulative social media, this sprightly story of a legendary con artist’s outrageous successes becomes a cautionary tale for the digital age.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-49581-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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